WASHINGTON, September 5, 2017 – After a five-week recess, the GOP controlled Congress will reconvene tomorrow with a full agenda. There are many very critical issues that must be addressed quickly. Hurricane Harvey just put more pressure on lawmakers.
Congress will tout the number of bills that have been passed and signed into law by President Trump. They failed, however, to act on the major and most pressing issues, even though they had six full months and yet they failed on health care and so far, little if no discussion on stimulating economic growth through tax reform.
Fixing the health care mess, economic growth and national security seem to be the issues of most concern for Americans. While there were some positive actions taken on the national security issue, nothing was done on the other critical issues.
President Trump has done about all that he can on national security and economic growth. To his credit, he has grown the manufacturing sector, removed burdensome and counter-productive regulations and instilled confidence in the consumer and business sectors.
Now Congress must find a compromise among the opposing positions and pass legislation to move the country forward. The most pressing issue will be a nearly $8 billion spending request for Hurricane Harvey damage. While there should be overwhelming support, something else may get added to the aid package which may make passage more difficult.
While there should be overwhelming support, something else may get added to the aid package which may make passage more difficult.
For instance, there are two very critical issues that must be resolved in the next 30 days. A 2018 fiscal budget must be approved by the end of the month or the government could shut down. In addition, the Treasury Department will reach the borrowing limit in early October so the debt ceiling must be raised or there could be a debt default.
In addition, the Treasury Department will reach the borrowing limit in early October so the debt ceiling must be raised or there could be a debt default.
Will a provision to address these issues be added to a Harvey relief bill?
Regarding the budget, reaching a compromise on spending will be difficult. The Democrats want increased spending on social programs but are against the funding for a border wall with Mexico. Republicans and President Trump wants to force the government to operate more efficiently and far less costly.
The GOP also wants to reduce spending on many income transfer programs like welfare. And Trump wants the wall to be built.
Raising the debt ceiling may also be difficult. Currently, the Federal Government has a debt of almost $20 trillion dollars. That amounts to over $60,000 for every man,
Currently, the Federal Government has a debt of almost $20 trillion dollars. That amounts to over $60,000 for every man, woman, and child in the US. While interest rates are low, this debt is somewhat manageable. But when interest rates rise and if we continue to overspend by hundreds of billions every year, this debt problem will only expand for future generations.
But many members of Congress will only vote to raise the debt ceiling if they get something in return. That may make a compromise difficult.
Discussion on these issues will lead to a discussion on tax reform. Nearly every American agrees the current tax code is complicated, unfair, counter-productive, growth slowing and burdensome. Trying to find an alternative on that the majority of Congress will agree is acceptable, will similarly be very difficult.
Trying to find an alternative on that the majority of Congress will agree is acceptable, will similarly be very difficult.
But if the economy is ever to reach a 4% growth rate, tax reform is an absolute necessity. It is likely that the final versions of the budget, the Harvey relief package and raising of the debt ceiling will show just how willing the majority in Congress is to work with the opposing view.
While these issues are being resolved Congress will also have to deal with a potential crisis with North Korea, which may end up dominating discussions. Then there is the infrastructure bill, finally fixing or repealing or replacing the Affordable Care Act, as well as rewriting some of our trade agreements.
Congress has a full plate.
The key to success will be finding a position that can be supported by most of the moderate Republicans and most of the moderate Democrats. The Democrats tried to go it alone in 2009 and 2010 and that has resulted in the current healthcare fiasco. The Republicans tried to go it alone in the last six months. The result of that was that nothing major was accomplished.
The businessman Trump just wants results. In most instances, he is willing to compromise if Congress can reach consensus. It is therefore critical that Congress does what they were elected to do. That is to legislate; pass laws that benefit the country. Congress cannot fail this time.
The issues are too critical.
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